If there is one name in Star Wars whose meaning epitomizes a character, it’s Yoda. The name’s meaning fits Yoda’s persona and role within Star Wars. But here’s some fun trivia: he was almost given another name that appeared in early drafts of The Empire Strikes Back.
Yoda is derived from two words, Yoddha and Yodea, whose meanings are Warrior (Yoddha), and The One who Knows (Yodea). Further, Yoda is also an obscure Japanese surname that further describes the character’s role in Star Wars.
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What Does the Name Yoda Mean?
Per Baby Names, Yoda has two meanings:
- One Who Knows
Describes Yoda well, huh?
He was a Consular in the Jedi Order. Consulars were among the Order’s wisest members, as they sought to deepen their connection to the Force.
And it was something Yoda took seriously, becoming arguably the Jedi Order’s wisest figure during the Skywalker Saga. The name’s second meaning, One Who Knows, fits the character. But so does the first meaning.
Despite his Consular reputation, you can argue that Yoda acted as a Guardian, given his lightsaber skills. Reel Rundown listed the Top Ten Strongest Jedi of All Time, and placed Yoda at number two behind Luke Skywalker, making him the strongest Jedi in the Prequel Trilogy.
Reel Rundown cited Yoda’s lightsaber skills as the primary reason they placed him so high. But they also acknowledged his dedication to teaching Younglings, something he did for over eight centuries.
And they also recognized a vision he experienced during his duel with Darth Sidious in Revenge of the Sith. One that saw himself losing the duel. And if he lost, he could have never trained Skywalker.
What is Yoda’s Full Name?
Yoda’s name has an interesting backstory. So interesting that, in early drafts of the Original Trilogy, Yoda did not train Luke Skywalker. Instead, Obi-Wan Kenobi survived A New Hope and took the task.
However, George Lucas didn’t feel it made sense for the character to stand by and train Luke. So he scripted Darth Vader to kill Kenobi, forcing Luke to seek another mentor that Obi-Wan’s Force Ghost would inform him of.
Enter Yoda, who Lucas originally named Buffy. However, he hired Leigh Brackett as a screenwriter shortly after he penned his first draft of The Empire Strikes Back.
Brackett changed the name to Minch Yoda, believing the name to be a better fit. She further shortened the name to Yoda before her death in 1978. When Lucas retook control of the scripts, he stuck with the name.
While Yoda has gone by one name since his debut in The Empire Strikes Back, his original full name was Minch Yoda.
Does Minch Hold Special Meaning?
Like the name Yoda, Minch also describes his character. Derived from the Middle English word mynch, which is also reduced from minchen, translates to female monk. While Yoda is male, this probably wasn’t the inspiration for the name.
Let’s shift gears to Greek, where the word derives from monachòs, a noun that translates to Minch, meaning hermit. Given Yoda’s role in The Empire Strikes Back, the translation from Greek fits his character better. Monachòs also serves as an adjective meaning single, solitary.
Minch also traces its roots to the Late Latin word monachus, which means monk.
Although the name Yoda itself holds meaning to the character, had Brackett kept the full name Minch Yoda, its meaning still held.
Where did the Name Yoda Come From?
While Baby Names states that Yoda originated in America, it also traces predecessor origins to two likely sources.
One theory is that the name derives from Yoddha, a Sanskrit term that means Warrior. There is also a Hebrew variation, Yodea, meaning The One Who Knows.
Even more interesting, a user on Baby Names mentioned a theory that the name originated in Hungary. They further stated their mother, born in 1926, was named Yoda, 54 years before the character debuted on the movie screen.
The user also stated their mother was English, and their grandmother’s friend suggested the name.
Is Yoda a Japanese Name?
A Japanese variation of the name exists. Culture Tour confirms Yoda to be an uncommon Japanese surname that means, “foster, develop, and nurture.” The name also stands for the rice field and rice paddy.
It’s possible Brackett knew about the Japanese variation, given Yoda’s desire to teach young Jedi within the Order.
And while it’s possible Lucas had not fleshed out Yoda’s backstory of training Jedi Younglings in what became the Prequel Trilogy, Yoda still acknowledged he trained Jedi for over 800 years in The Empire Strikes Back.
While the many meanings behind the character’s name indicate that Brackett researched the name, popular fan sites like Wookieepedia have not revealed the primary desire to name Yoda. Brackett also never gave her reasoning behind the name.
And Lucas, as with much of Yoda’s backstory, continues to remain mum on the issue.
The meaning of Yoda’s name is synonymous with the character. In Sanskrit, Yoddha means warrior, something Yoda showed as a powerful Jedi. Yodea means One Who Knows, symbolizing the character’s wisdom.
The Japanese surname Yoda also points to nurturing, and Yoda made a living out of nurturing the growth of Jedi Younglings.
While all three names pertain to Yoda’s character, it’s crazy to think Lucas originally gave him another name and did not even come up with the name Yoda. That credit goes to Leigh Brackett.
And Yoda’s other original name, Minch Yoda, bears sound meaning to the character given Minch’s roots that trace back to monk, hermit, and solitary.
And while we will never know whether Brackett conducted research into the name, given the meanings of similar words and the Japanese surname, it’s safe to assume she did her homework.
Sion Fawkes has been covering Star Wars since January 2022, expanding his expertise in both Star Wars Canon and Legends. When not writing, you can find Sion in the gym or running trails. He also likes watching sports and listening to audiobooks.